The Chemistry department offers research opportunities for undergraduates in a wide range of areas, including organic synthesis, theoretical chemistry, laser spectroscopy, synthetic biology and many others. Undergraduate research gives students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real problems of importance both to society and to basic science. Undergraduate research is also excellent experience for almost any career path after graduation. Experience as an undergraduate researcher is often a significant factor for admission to a top graduate program, medical school, professional school, or for landing an industry or government job.
The department offers competitive scholarships and stipends (and other forms of support) for undergraduate research, especially for research carried out during the summer months. Course credit for undergraduate research (Chem 495, Chem 496) is also available through arrangements with individual faculty mentors. Undergraduate research projects are usually carried out over several semesters, so it is best to start early.
An undergraduate research is project is not a matter of signing up for a class. Students and faculty members must talk, work out a plan, and come to mutual agreement. Working with a faculty mentor, students first develop background knowledge in a specific research area and then make original contributions, usually in the form of publications in the scientific literature and presentations at scientific meetings.
To start a undergraduate research project:
1. Learn about the research areas and projects of the chemistry faculty. A list of faculty currently accepting students for undergraduate research is given below. A slide presentation with a partial list of faculty research interests is also available here.
2. Identify several faculty members whose research area matches your interests, and make appointments to talk to them. Prospective students should contact at least 2 faculty members before selecting a project.
3. Together with a faculty mentor, develop a plan to contribute to a research project.
In addition to taking undergraduate research credit during the regular academic year, students may obtain either faculty or Department salary support to carry out research work in faculty research laboratories during the summer. Whaley foundation scholarships (information here) are available to well-qualified students that provide support in the form of a stipend.
The Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department is also associated with the Nano-Science and Micro-Systems (NSMS) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) (information here) that qualified students may apply to for sponsored internships.